FIREFIGHTER: James Baldock from the Caloundra Fire and Rescue works to contain the blaze on Thomas St, Woolooga.
FIREFIGHTER: James Baldock from the Caloundra Fire and Rescue works to contain the blaze on Thomas St, Woolooga. Philippe Coquerand

Historic bridge destroyed in inferno

IT HAS been a dark week for Woolooga, with the loss of millions of dollars in infrastructure and stock feed.

Gympie Fire Station officer Cameron Nicol, one of countless firefighters who have helped battle the blaze, said it was the worst fire he had seen in his 10 years in the region.

Today is the Day 4 of the disaster that at last count yesterday had burnt out 10,000ha. Ahead lies the job of assessing the damage and helping the community recover.

James Baldock is trying to contain the blaze on Thomas St, Woolooga.
James Baldock is trying to contain the blaze on Thomas St, Woolooga. Philippe Coquerand

The flames burnt within 5km of Vince and Dianne Hollis' property on Thomas St.

The historic rail bridge however, could not be saved.

Mrs Hollis said she found it quite tough yesterday when she saw the flames near her place.

"It's very unnerving; you'd like to do something but you don't know what to do,” she said.

"We've been through the floods and the best thing to do is to get out of their way and let them do their job.

"I was a bit worried on Thursday more so than yesterday.”

Firefighters continue battling the devastating Woolooga blaze that claimed the bridge on Thomas St.
Firefighters continue battling the devastating Woolooga blaze that claimed the bridge on Thomas St. Philippe Coquerand

Mrs Hollis said she knows friends who have been hit worse than herself.

"I know friends of ours who have lost machinery in sheds, they've done it really tough but the fireys and emergency services have done an excellent job,” she said.

"The fireys came to our place yesterday to check how the bridge was faring and to double check if our ground was wet enough so it wouldn't catch fire and to protect the house.”

Mrs Hollis said the bridge burnt overnight and was "just collapsing into bits and pieces.”

The flames burnt to within 5 metres of Dianne Hollis' home.
The flames burnt to within 5 metres of Dianne Hollis' home. Philippe Coquerand

Firefighters from Caloundra Fire and Rescue were able to use a compressed air foam appliance which was one of four appliances used in southeast Queensland to extinguish the blaze.

A firefighter on the scene said the blaze had to be around 400 degrees to destroy the bridge.

Fire crews will be monitoring the area for the next two to seven days.

Rural businessman Tom Grady has offered to provide free transport on all bales of hay bought for the newly created Woolooga Hay Drive over the weekend until Monday.

You can phone Tom Grady Rural Supplies on 54821692 and buy a bale for $16 to help affected property owners.

North Coast Fire Region acting superintendent Ronald Higgins said it had been a big operation managing the fight since Wednesday morning.

He said hundreds of firefighters had all played their role in keeping people safe and protecting as much property as possible.

James Baldock from the Caloundra Fire and Rescue was working to save the Thomas bridge, Woolooga on Friday morning.
James Baldock from the Caloundra Fire and Rescue was working to save the Thomas bridge, Woolooga on Friday morning. Philippe Coquerand

"It is a big operation when you have something like 100 firefighters on the ground to monitor where they are and to keep them safe,” he said.

"It is a credit to everyone concerned that when you pull something like this together that it happens really easily and we're trained to do it as well.

"A large contingent of the people here are volunteers. They give out their time to assist the community and it's greatly appreciated.”

Gympie Times


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